First Bus has begun the rollout of what’s set to be the largest zero-emission Park & Ride fleet in the UK.
The first of 21 new all-electric Optare Metrodecker EVs has officially entered service on the York Park & Ride network, a partnership between First York and City of York Council, starting with the Askham Bar corridor to the south west of the city.
The full order the Yorkshire-built ‘deckers will be brought into operation this summer, replacing existing diesel vehicles in an investment totalling £9.3m and expanding the fully electric fleet on York Park & Ride to 33 buses. The final vehicle is expected to be delivered in September.
These are the first new vehicles to be introduced by First Bus anywhere in the country since the company announced on 8 July its commitment to achieve a zero-carbon fleet by 2035.
Marc Bichtemann, Managing Director of First York, said: “We’re proud to be the operator of the biggest zero-emission Park & Ride fleet in the country as we continue to partner with City of York Council to improve air quality in York.
“This is an important stage in our shared ambition to expand sustainable transport in the city. We are determined to attract more customers to using buses and realising the real impact this has in reducing congestion, creating cleaner air and supporting the local economy, not least as York continues its revival from the pandemic.”
The buses can carry 98 passengers (although this number is currently restricted due to social distancing) and have a range of 160 miles from one overnight charge, which means they can operate on the network all day without recharging. As part of the overall investment, First York has spent £1m upgrading the charging infrastructure at its James Street depot including a new electricity sub-station.
The vehicles, which sport new-look York Park & Ride branding and feature audio visual next stop announcements, USB charging points and WiFi connectivity, have been supported with £2.7m funding secured by City of York Council from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).
Cllr Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Transport, said: “We are very proud that York is now set to become home to one of the largest electric bus fleets in the country, serving a Park & Ride system that is already showcased widely as an example to others.
“It has been a challenging time for bus companies as they strive to help us keep our residents and their drivers safe, so we are delighted that even during this difficult time we have been able to progress this project with First York.”
Graham Belgum, CEO of Optare plc, said: “We are very proud to continue our ground-breaking partnership with First York and City of York Council. Optare passionately believes in the role of zero emission buses in the future of public transport and we will continue to invest in developing this technology. We look forward to the successful introduction of the Metrodecker EV to the city.”